With striking originality and precision, Eden Robinson, the Giller-shortlisted author of the classic Monkey Beach and winner of the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award, blends humour with heartbreak in this compelling coming-of-age novel. Everyday teen existence meets indigenous beliefs, crazy family dynamics, and cannibalistic river otter . . . The exciting first novel in her trickster trilogy.
Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who's often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Jared does smoke and drink too much, and he does make the best cookies in town, and his mom is a mess, but he's also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age, and he can't rely on anyone for consistent love and support, except for his flatulent pit bull, Baby Killer (he calls her Baby)--and now she's dead.
Jared can't count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him. He can't rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only sixteen but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family's life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he struggles to keep everything afloat...and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he's the son of a trickster, that he isn't human. Mind you, ravens speak to him--even when he's not stoned.
You think you know Jared, but you don't.
Haisla/Heiltsuk novelist EDEN ROBINSON is the author of a collection of short stories written when she was a Goth called Traplines, which won the Winifred Holtby Prize in the UK. Her two previous novels, Monkey Beach and Blood Sports, were written before she discovered she was gluten-intolerant and tend to be quite grim, the latter being especially gruesome because half-way through writing the manuscript, Robinson gave up a two-pack a day cigarette habit and the more she suffered, the more her characters suffered. Monkey Beach won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and was a finalist for the Giller Prize and the Governor General's Award for Fiction. Son of a Trickster was written under the influence of pan-fried tofu and nutritional yeast, which may explain things but probably doesn't. The author lives in Kitimat, BC.
“[Robinson is] one of Canada’s pre-eminent indigenous writers . . . [H]er depictions of the complex interplay between First Nations peoples of varying levels of wokeness and cultural immersion are undeniably funny and subtle. . . . Eden Robinson at her untidy best.” —Ethan Whitlock, The Globe and Mail
“Son of a Trickster begins a promising, humorously dark trilogy. . . . [A] unique, genuinely surprising novel from one of Canada’s finest writers, a blend of hardscrabble coming-of-age story with mythic fiction at its most powerfully subversive. It’s exactly as slippery as a trickster tale should be, changing direction and shape even as you convince yourself you know what’s going on and what will likely happen next. . . . This is Robinson at her best. Much of the success of the novel comes from the strength with which Robinson roots the fantastic events in the real world. . . . It is tempting to say that one could strip away the magical elements and have an impressive, realistic story in its own right . . . but it is also firmly roots in cultural ideas of magic and myth. . . . It’s a crucial perspective—two worlds, equally real—through which Robinson has created a powerful magic-realist work. . . . As dark as it is, the novel is also, as one might expect from Robinson, frequently hilarious, prompting laughter not just against the darkness, but from it. It is also, ultimately, hopeful, although—as Jared would tell you—that might just be an illusion.” —Robert J. Wiersema, National Post
“In its melding of normalized violence, Native myth, gutter talk and ready wit, Son of a Trickster readily recalls its predecessors. What’s changed is the humour quotient, which is dialed up considerably. . . . Robinson also plays with structure. . . . A parade of fantastical elements in Son of a Trickster’s last quarter injects it with some weird and welcome vigour. . . . [A] charmingly chaotic party.” —Toronto Star
“Expect Robinson’s hallmark blend of humour and heartache.” —Room
“[R]ich with humour and heartbreak.” —49th Shelf
“[O]ne of the highlights of the spring literary season. . . . [F]unny and poignant.” —Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail
“Eden Robinson is more than funny, more than intelligent, more than a novelist—she’s an enchanter. Son of a Trickster creates a terrifically believable teenage character who lives both on the rez and in a witchy soup of blood, sex and magic. Harry Potter goes to reform school. Full of sparks, full of pain, full of joy.” —Alix Hawley, author of All True Not a Lie in It
“If Raven and Trickster got a show on Netflix, no one could write it but Eden Robinson. Talking ravens, party drugs, deadbeat dads, murderous otters, Doctor Who—nobody brings together pop culture, indigenous culture and myth with more ferocity and humour. Son of a Trickster is my favourite book this year.” —Annabel Lyon, author of The Sweet Girl and The Golden Mean
“Eden Robinson is a writer with a magical touch. Crisp prose, taut dialogue, and a cast of maniacal characters you sure as hell don’t want living next door.” —Thomas King, author of The Back of the Turtle and The Inconvenient Indian
“Eden Robinson is a masterful storyteller. Shimmering with deft prose, unforgettable characters, and haunting truths, Son of a Trickster reminds us that sometimes the surest way to solid ground is through believing in magic.” —Ami McKay, author of The Birth House, The Virgin Cure and The Witches of New York
“Son of a Trickster is filled with darkness and squalor and obscenity. And yet, startlingly, it brings the reader to a place of wonder and mystery and magic. It is a story of a boy born into a violent history. It is a story of a boy born into a magnificent culture. Robinson bravely reconciles these oppositions in a story that is equal parts irreverent humour and astute wisdom.” —Heather O’Neill, author of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Lullabies for Little Criminals
PRAISE FOR EDEN ROBINSON:
“Eden Robinson is a master storyteller with an instantly recognizable style and a capacious sensibility that encompasses everything from traditional Haisla teachings to contemporary youth culture. Her vision is unflinching, her obsessions sometimes brutal, her observations visceral, yet at the same time all of her work is suffused with a deep empathy for her characters, and spiced by a tricksterish sense of humour that opens up new ways of understanding this land and its beautiful, damaged people. In a world where the legacies of colonial violence are alive and present every day, Robinson’s work resonates with crucial political and ethical questions that everyone needs to consider. This is vital, engaged and artful writing that sticks in the memory and makes us think again about who, and where, we are.” —Jurors Warren Cariou, Annabel Lyon, Linda Spalding for the Findley-Engel Prize
PRAISE FOR MONKEY BEACH:
“Monkey Beach creates a vivid contemporary landscape that draws the reader deep into a traditional world, a hidden universe of premonition, pain and power.” —Thomas King
“Monkey Beach is a moody, powerful novel full of memorable characters. Reading it was like entering a pool of emerald water to discover a haunted world shivering with loss and love, regret and sorrow, where the spirit world is as a real as the human. I was sucked into it with the very first sentence and when I left, it was with such a feeling of immense reluctance.” —Anita Rau Badami
“We bear witness as she spreads her wings . . . not one note rings false. All the characters . . . are stubbornly real, mixtures of good and evil. This is Robinson at her best . . . this is a world worth every ounce of remembrance.” —Toronto Star
“[Robinson’s] command of language and ability to create three-dimensional, believable characters result in a hypnotic, heady sensory experience. . . . The beauty of the book is in the details—Robinson combines mortal and spiritual worlds, the past and the present, seamlessly fusing them into a cogent, non-linear narrative. . . . Riveting.” —NOW (four star review)
“Robinson’s specialty is presenting the day-to-day: No bells, no whistles, no filtered lenses—but a lot of close-ups. . . . The humour is pure, but the grit and blood is mixed with meditations on still waters, ancestral voices, ghostly footsteps and beating hearts. . . . [Monkey Beach is] an important work of understanding.” —Edmonton Journal
“Monkey Beach is an important novel. It exposes the redemptive, vital lives of a once dying culture with Robinson’s insider compassion and trickster wit. . . . Robinson has energy; she resists the slickster sophistication that dries out so much of today’s fiction; her humour is not urbane and nasty but shifty and wise.” —Quill & Quire
“A first novel that bristles with energy—and a spunky heroine. . . . A haunting coming-of-age story [whose] tragic elements are leavened with wonderful moments of humour. . . . The characters in [Monkey Beach] emerge brilliantly.” —Maclean’s
“Glorious Northern Gothic. . . . A compelling story . . . Robinson has an artist’s eye, and delicately evokes the astonishing natural beauty of the Kitamaat region . . . behind Lisa’s neutral voice is an authorial presence, weaving Haisla and Heiltsuk lore into the fabric of the novel gracefully, but with the quiet determination of an archivist cataloguing a disappearing way of life.” —The Globe and Mail
“Written with poise, intelligence and playfulness . . . . Intricately patterned . . . there is much to admire in this tale of grief and survival. . . . In Lisamarie Hill, Robinson has created a memorable character, a young woman who finds a way to survive even as everything around her decays.” —National Post